Researchers find Holy Grail of palaeontology

Scientists from The Australian National University (ANU) and overseas have discovered molecules of fat in an ancient fossil to reveal the earliest confirmed animal in the geological record that lived on Earth 558 million years ago.

The strange creature called Dickinsonia, which grew up to 1.4 metres in length and was oval shaped with rib-like segments running along its body, was part of the Ediacara Biota that lived on Earth 20 million years prior to the ‘Cambrian explosion’ of modern animal life._ANU

Parasitoid biology preserved in mineralized fossils

Evidence for parasitism in fossils is generally rare, as it requires preserved information of interaction between both partners. As a consequence, the fossil record of parasitoid wasps is nearly exclusively restricted to isolated adults, with few examples of unidentified larvae trapped in amber next to their hosts. Therefore, our understanding of parasitoid evolution is based on the inference that fossil organisms exhibited habits resembling those of their extant relatives. (Nature Communications volume 9, Article number: 3325 (2018) 
DOI https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-05654-y
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New Egyptian dinosaur reveals ancient link between Africa and Europe

When it comes to the final days of the dinosaurs, Africa is something of a blank page. Fossils found in Africa from the Late Cretaceous, the time period from 100 to 66 million years ago, are few and far between. That means that the course of dinosaur evolution in Africa has largely remained a mystery. But in the Sahara Desert of Egypt, scientists have discovered a new species of dinosaur that helps fill in those gaps: Mansourasaurus shahinae, a school-bus-length, long-necked plant-eater with bony plates embedded in its skin._ Ohio University

Oldest traces of life on Earth may lurk in Canadian rocks

Ancient rocks in northeastern Canada could contain chemical traces of life from more than 3.95 billion years ago, a new study suggests. If confirmed, the finding would be among the earliest known signs of life on Earth._Nature News & Comment

Getting to the heart of fossils

Scientists have discovered, for the first time, a fossilised heart in a 119 million-year-old fish from Brazil called Rhacolepis. This has been possible thanks to the powerful X-rays of the ESRF, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Grenoble, France. This breakthrough can provide clues about cardiac evolution._ESRF

“A load of old rot”: fossil of oldest known land-dweller identified

The earliest example of an organism living on land – an early type of fungus – has been identified. The organism, from 440 million years ago, likely kick-started the process of rot and soil formation, which encouraged the later growth and diversification of life on land. __The University of Cambridge